GAA suspends Sinn Fein from ticket scheme

The GAA has excluded Sinn Fein political representatives from its discretionary ticket scheme for the All-Ireland finals. The decision was taken because of the Hunger Strike Rally at Casement Park that went ahead against the Central Council’s wishes, which seems to have been considered a breach of “the principle of mutual respect“. Possible disciplinary action against the Antrim County Board is expected to be discussed later this month. UPDATE Martin McGuinness has attacked the move as “childish”.The GAA did the same against Fine Gael and the Labour Party in the mid 1980’s.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “Why should it?”

    Will you therefore concede that funding given to the GAA iis in breach of rules pertaining to such funding ie. No recipient should didcriminate on the basis of political opinion?

    “Yes but that is not the same as saying it is exclusive”

    Oh, but it is.

    “Not so. A unionist could still choose to join”

    They could – and in the process, subscribe to an organisation with nationalist/republican political outlook. Some unionist.

    “I have heard expressed by unionists are not legitimate”

    I would be interested to learn which ones you consider legitimate.

    “Sammy Wilson’s “IRA at play” statement, for example, was a disgraceful slander and, in a context where GAA members were being murdered simply for being GAA members, an evil act.”

    That’s interesting.

    Wilson is wrong in his assertion.

    You lectured me last week about how I should feel guilty about the actions of some of my fellow Northern Ireland fans – who are members of no organisation.

    Do you feel guilty about the actions of some of your fellow members of the GAA – those who involved themselves in murder and maiming?

    PIRA also brutalised many members of the GAA – yet many GAA members honour them.

    During a bloody and violent conflict, you will need no reminding that the GAA pinned it’s colours to the political mast.

    “I hope you would at least accredit me with having listened to what you have to say”

    I certainly would – I find you input to our discussion to be very interesting.

    “I don’t think you’re an Irish-hating b1got”

    I can assure you, being Irish myself, that I’m not.

    “The first time I ever did Irish dancing was in a GAA club”

    My young daughter, like many kids of a unionist background, enjoys Irish dancing, and is soon joining clsses.

    She doesn’t need the politically exclusive GAA to do that for her.

  • Realist

    “The Orange Order, the backbone of unionism openly commemorates numerous loyalist killers, including members of the Shankill Butchers, in it’s thousands of marches”

    Facinating that a discussion about the GAA, once again, draws comparisons from a republican with the Orange Order.

    The Orange Order is, of course, an exclusive organisation. It makes no apology, or secret of that fact.

    “I have no interest in team sports and no connection with the GAA but the location of Casement Park meant that a Hunger Strike Commemoration there was likely to be a quiet dignified affair which didn’t upset the locals”

    And sully the name of a so called sporting organisation.

    Casement received thousands of UK pounds via the Sports Council on the basis that the Antrim board did not discriminate on the basis of political opinion.

    It’s a pity republicans have decided to use the affair as yet another chance to parade their intolerance of diversity. They never learn.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “I’m sorry – I believe it to be a “cold house for unionists” organisation.”

    Excellent, so we agree that the GAA is not an exclusive organisation.

    I must say though, I reject your “cold house” terminology. That was a phrase coined by David Trimble to describe the experience of Catholics under Stormont. It’s a disproportionate phrase to use in this context. The GAA is not damaging to the lives of unionist people. I would agree that the GAA is unattractive to unionists, but nothing more malign than that.

    “It takes a narrow view of Irishness.”

    You say. But you haven’t explained why you think the GAA’s view is “narrow”? I have suggested that the GAA’s position should be seen as a contribution in the context of an ongoing debate. I think if a unionist wanted to look at it that way, then lots of things become possible.

    “No surprise at all. I’m not damning you at all.”

    But you do label the GAA as “narrow” and “myopic” and, unless I’m misinterpreting you, sectarian? That’s pretty damning, is it not?

    “I suggest you join your local club. Get involved” – No.

    Just a suggestion.

    “As a unionist, I would not wish to be “bound by” the Rules and Regulations of the GAA.”

    Pity. Ah well.

    “Sam was.”

    He was indeed. But surely you wouldn’t disagree that few Protestants in the north have been involved with the GAA in recent decades? Surely you would agree that increasing numbers of Protestants in, say, Armagh, following the county team, is noteworthy?

    “Why does a sporting organisation need a “political stance” which alienates people on a divided island, an island, it claims it wishes to see united?”

    Why do you find the GAA “alienating”? I know you’re a unionist, but why do unionists find the GAA alienating? Why are unionists opposed to Gaelic culture and to 32 county identity?

    The GAA was founded in order to manifest the principle that cultures and traditions indigenous to Ireland stood equal. It was founded in order to create a space where Irish people could live out the ancient games and traditions of this island, and thereby see that Ireland has history and culture and traditions of which all Irish people are entitled to be proud. The GAA was founded as a way of making Irish people need regard themselves as inferior to no-one.

    I think the GAA has succeeded and continues to succeed in those goals. I could speculate as to why unionists seem to hold such shrill detestation for this most successful of anti-colonial initiatives, but I won’t.

    You tell me Realist, what’s it all about?

    “Don’t mean I cannot enjoy a game of Gaelic football tho, especially with Mayo in an AI Final.”

    What’s the Mayo connection, beautiful part of the world that it is?

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “But you do label the GAA as “narrow” and “myopic” and, unless I’m misinterpreting you, sectarian? That’s pretty damning, is it not?”

    I do not label it as sectarian – on the contrary, Rule 8(b) makes it quite clear that it is a non sectarian organisation.

    I do view IT as narrow and myopic, that is not to say that YOU are narrow and myopic.

    “But surely you wouldn’t disagree that few Protestants in the north have been involved with the GAA in recent decades? Surely you would agree that increasing numbers of Protestants in, say, Armagh, following the county team, is noteworthy?”

    Honestly Billy, I’m sick saying that I do not care what religion, if any, anyone is. I’m not one bit interested in slightly different strands of the same religion.

    “I know you’re a unionist, but why do unionists find the GAA alienating?”

    The overtly nationalist/republican rules, ethos and practices of the GAA – we’ve done this before!

    “Why are unionists opposed to Gaelic culture and to 32 county identity?”

    Not at all oppose to Gaelic culture, and 32 county identity is a political sentiment.

    “The GAA was founded as a way of making Irish people need regard themselves as inferior to no-one”

    Why then make 15/20% of the population of Ireland feel inferior?

    “I could speculate as to why unionists seem to hold such shrill detestation for this most successful of anti-colonial initiatives, but I won’t.”

    Please do.

    “What’s the Mayo connection, beautiful part of the world that it is?”

    I have spent many happy times in County Mayo, and it has a special place in my heart. It is indeed a beautiful part of the world, filled with many wonderful people.

  • memorystick

    So Fine Gael and Labour were excluded in the 1980s, surely they should have exclude all political parties at the same time?

    Are Fianna Fail still on the list?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Why should it?”

    “Will you therefore concede that funding given to the GAA is in breach of rules pertaining to such funding ie. No recipient should discriminate on the basis of political opinion?”

    The GAA represents its membership. It does not claim to represent anyone other than its membership, and it certainly doesn’t claim to represent unionists. Nor does it “discriminate” against anyone, on any basis. It does what it does, and anyone who wants to get involved is entitled to get involved. As I have pointed out, you could go and join your local club tomorrow if you wanted to. That you choose not to is your choice. Fair enough. You might feel excluded but frankly that’s a matter for yourself – it’s not the same as actually being excluded. And you certainly are not being discriminated against.
    But as I have said, the GAA does not claim to represent anyone but its members, and it’s unreasonable to demand that it represent anyone other than its members.

    “Oh, but it is.”
    No it’s not. Sorry to be a pedant Realist, but words mean things. There are many words that can be accurately ascribed to the GAA but “exclusive” is not one of them.

    “They could – and in the process, subscribe to an organisation with nationalist/republican political outlook. Some unionist.”

    What, you think he wouldn’t be a unionist any more? You think he’d be infected by nationalist thinking? (Perhaps deep down, that’s what you’re afraid of?)

    “I would be interested to learn which ones you consider legitimate.”

    In my previous post I gave Rule 21 as an example. I also think that Rule 42 should be further relaxed. I’d love to watch Ulster play Munster or Stade Francais or whomever at Casement. I think that some of the objections to changes in Rule 42 within the association are old-fashioned and overly pessimistic. I also think that the GAA should respond robustly to the latest attempt by SF to try and use the northern counties as automatic powerbases. (They’ve been trying for thirty years and, despite what you may have heard, they’ve been sent packing each time.)

    “You lectured me last week about how I should feel guilty about the actions of some of my fellow Northern Ireland fans – who are members of no organisation. Do you feel guilty about the actions of some of your fellow members of the GAA – those who involved themselves in murder and maiming? PIRA also brutalised many members of the GAA – yet many GAA members honour them.”

    I feel some guilt about all the mayhem unleashed by my fellow Irish nationalists and republicans over the years, yes – though I myself played no part and was opposed, always. I also feel some satisfaction that the only truly representative form of Irish republicanism, the Irish government, did not get blood on its hands, unlike the British government and all communities here. I also feel some satisfaction that nationalism was able to throw up a party like the SDLP – the party that rolled up its sleeves and did what was necessary to stop the madness.

    Yes, GAA members killed people, but they did not do so as GAA members. Bobby Sands was a milkman, but I don’t think he had his milkman’s hat on when he was carrying guns. Nor did Kevin Lynch have his GAA hat on when he was lifted. So when I think of, say, Gerry Adams’s alleged role in Bloody Friday, I do feel some sense of responsibility (even though I wasn’t born – Jesus, Catholicism, eh?) – not because I’m a GAA member but because I’m a human being, and an Irish nationalist one at that.

    However, when I heard one fucking bastarding idiot shouting “Up the provos” during a minute’s silence for the 7/7 victims at the Ulster final last year, I wanted to find him and smash his face in. Why? Because I was embarrassed by him. Why? Because he and I have something in common. I can’t just distance myself. He is my own dark heart. (Yes, one out of 70,000, and I’m still seething a year later. And bringing it up unprompted in a discussion with a Gahsceptic.)

    And yes, GAA members were murdered, for being GAA members. You can surely understand how GAA members feel about that?

    “During a bloody and violent conflict, you will need no reminding that the GAA pinned it’s colours to the political mast.”

    Sorry but you’re going to have to clarify that. That’s a statement so broad as to be meaningless. What exactly are you accusing the GAA of having done during the troubles? Of having not been unionist? Or something more?

    “I certainly would – I find you input to our discussion to be very interesting.”

    Ditto.

    “I can assure you, being Irish myself, that I’m not.”

    Good man. Me too.

    “My young daughter, like many kids of a unionist background, enjoys Irish dancing, and is soon joining classes.”

    I hope she has a ball, and I wish her every success if she ever competes in any feiseanna.

  • lib2016

    Realist,

    You think that pointing out the tolerance of nationalists and wishing that unionists could learn from it is in itself intolerant? How quaint!

    The GAA has been identified with Irish republicanism before and survived remarkably well. They may be worrying whether they will survive the newfound solicitude of unionists which is a totally new experience for them.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “I do view IT as narrow and myopic, that is not to say that YOU are narrow and myopic.”

    Ah fair enough, you’re entitled to your opinion I suppose. 🙂

    “The overtly nationalist/republican rules, ethos and practices of the GAA – we’ve done this before!”

    I know, but I’m trying to dig a little deeper. Why should even an “overtly nationalist ethos” be such a problem? I don’t get it.

    “Not at all oppose to Gaelic culture….”

    Really? Some are – not you, but some. Why do you think that is?

    “… and 32 county identity is a political sentiment.”

    Not necessarily. Dividing the island is inherently political, but doing away with divisions isn’t necessarily so.

    “Why then make 15/20% of the population of Ireland feel inferior?”

    I’m gobsmacked by that sentence. I had no idea the GAA made unionists feel inferior. Though that does explain the quite bizarre vehemence of unionist criticism.

    All I can do is repeat what I said earlier: come on in, the water’s fine.

    “BP: “I could speculate as to why unionists seem to hold such shrill detestation for this most successful of anti-colonial initiatives, but I won’t.”
    R: Please do.”

    Well, I sort of did in the question. I asked why unionists hate the GAA, which I then posited as an example of a successful anti-colonial initiative.

    “I have spent many happy times in County Mayo, and it has a special place in my heart. It is indeed a beautiful part of the world, filled with many wonderful people.”

    Indeed, but I still don’t think they’ll win the All Ireland. They have a richly-deserved reputation as Gaelic football’s greatest chokers. Until they actually go and win the thing, you just couldn’t back them.

  • Martin

    However, when I heard one fucking bastarding idiot shouting “Up the provos” during a minute’s silence for the 7/7 victims at the Ulster final last year, I wanted to find him and smash his face in. Why? Because I was embarrassed by him. Why? Because he and I have something in common. I can’t just distance myself. He is my own dark heart.

    Billy, As much as I might disagree with your assertions that sports which originated in the Uk are inherently imperialist (why is soccer so popular in South America and Mainland Europe, the continents least touched by British colonialism ?) I can empathise with the above deeply honest sentiment 100%.

    I don’t think anyone who posts here and supports a sports team and has half a brain cell can say otherwise – whatever their background. When I have been at England games where (far more than 1 in 70,000) chant “No Surrender to the IRA” or similar I hate it. Of course I hate these Tw*ts for what they are chanting but even more so because I know its that dark corner of my own heart magnified into what passes for a human being.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    When one is asked to “subscribe to and undertake to further” rules and ethos which are politically exclusive and, what’s more, agree to be “bound” by them, I find that exclusive.

    Why not just ditch the politics?

    “What, you think he wouldn’t be a unionist any more? You think he’d be infected by nationalist thinking?”

    He would have “subscribed to, and undertake(n)” to be “bound” to nationalist/republican political ethos.

    “Perhaps deep down, that’s what you’re afraid of?”

    I do not fear nationalism/republicanism. I oppose it. I’m an unapologetic unionist. I am very certain and sure of that.

    “I also think that Rule 42 should be further relaxed”

    It’s Rule 44 now 🙂

    “I also think that the GAA should respond robustly to the latest attempt by SF to try and use the northern counties as automatic powerbases. (They’ve been trying for thirty years and, despite what you may have heard, they’ve been sent packing each time.)”

    How should the GAA respond?

    It is evident that the PSF hold much influence in GAA Clubs in many parts of Northern Ireland. A GAA member from County Dow wrote to the Irish News recently at his dismay that PSF now had a foothold in many top clubs in Co down, and where using their influence to further a political agenda.

    “I also feel some satisfaction that nationalism was able to throw up a party like the SDLP – the party that rolled up its sleeves and did what was necessary to stop the madness.”

    Indeed. I hold much respect for the SDLP.

    “However, when I heard one fucking bastarding idiot shouting “Up the provos” during a minute’s silence for the 7/7 victims at the Ulster final last year, I wanted to find him and smash his face in. Why? Because I was embarrassed by him. Why? Because he and I have something in common”

    I know what you mean. However, it wasn’t you shouting “Up the Provos”, so, in my book, you’ve nothing to feel guilty about.

    “And yes, GAA members were murdered, for being GAA members. You can surely understand how GAA members feel about that?”

    I can indeed.

    I recall vividly when republican terrorists twice planted bombs outside Windsor Park during Northern Ireland matches in the 1980’s. By the grace of god, no one was killed, or seriously injured.

    “Sorry but you’re going to have to clarify that. That’s a statement so broad as to be meaningless. What exactly are you accusing the GAA of having done during the troubles? Of having not been unionist? Or something more?”

    Two things spring to mind.

    Congress 1979. Motion paseed by the GAA giving its “unequivocal support to the struggle for national liberation”.

    The “struggle” was terminology used mainly by militant republicans, as in “armed struggle”.

    Blatantly political.

    Motions passed in support of the Hunger Strikers – members of militant republican gangs.

    Blatantly political.

    Red rag to loyalist paramilitaries I suspect.

    “I hope she has a ball, and I wish her every success if she ever competes in any feiseanna”

    Thanks Billy – you may be surprised at the number of unionist kids actively interested and participating in Irish dancing.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “Why should even an “overtly nationalist ethos” be such a problem? I don’t get it”

    Because unionists don’t share such an ethos. They oppose it.

    Why not just ditch the politics, and then, through time, we can all join and play?

    “Really? Some are – not you, but some. Why do you think that is?”

    Yes, really – I have no issues with Gaelic culture, be it language, singing, dancing or Gaelic games.

    I don’t why some unionists do.

    “Not necessarily. Dividing the island is inherently political, but doing away with divisions isn’t necessarily so”

    Why not just ditch the politics?

    “I’m gobsmacked by that sentence. I had no idea the GAA made unionists feel inferior.”

    Why are you gobsmacked? The GAA denounces everything unionists support politically.

    Why not just ditch the politics?

    “Though that does explain the quite bizarre vehemence of unionist criticism.”

    Unionists oppose nationalist/republican politics. Nothing odd in that.

    “I asked why unionists hate the GAA, which I then posited as an example of a successful anti-colonial initiative.”

    I have never once in my life considered myself to be a “colonial”.

    That’s the language of yesteryear. It’s 2006.

    “Indeed, but I still don’t think they’ll win the All Ireland”

    Life is full of surprises. That’s we we love our sport.

  • Michael Robinson

    “why is soccer so popular in South America and Mainland Europe, the continents least touched by British colonialism ?”

    ..but they were touched by British (frequently Scottish) engineers in those countries developing the railways and other industry given Britain’s leadership in this area in the 19th century.

    Hence clubs such as River Plate in Argentina and Athletic Bilbao in Spain using English rather than Spanish spellings because of their founders.

  • Martin

    I appreciate the history behind it Micheal – I just think this that playing British sports doesn’t necessarily mean you were cowering to the Imperialist Yoke as suggested elsewhere. Sure the engineers were making a profit for Blighty but soccer was not adopted there as a means of empire building.

    I also think its a bit patronising to countries like India to implicitly suggest their love of Cricket is essentially a means of kissing the backside of their former colonial overlords. On the contrary I would suggest.

    The establishment GAA was a perfectly legitimate response to the times and popularised some fantastic sports (IMHO especially hurling) but we do see to a greater or lesser extent today hostility in some quarters to “garrison games” which goes beyond sticking up for your won culture and into darker territory. I do hasten to note, however, that this is not the attitude of the vast majority of GAA supporters or the governing body itself.

    Over here you see a similar thing on a smaller scale between Union and League fans which has more to do with misplaced class loyalty than the relative merits and demerits of the actual sports.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Martin

    Thanks for that post. Cheers mate.

    Though you say: “much as I might disagree with your assertions that sports which originated in the Uk are inherently imperialist.”

    I didn’t say that – I said that sports such as rugby, cricket, hockey and to a much lesser extent soccer were used as tools of imperialism. They aren’t inherently anything, but it’s well documented they WERE used that way, and very successfully.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “When one is asked to “subscribe to and undertake to further” rules and ethos which are politically exclusive and, what’s more, agree to be “bound” by them, I find that exclusive.”

    Jesus, at my club no-one asks anything of the sort. I just give the club treasurer twenty quid a year. It’s not like you have to take an oath. It’s not like members sit around asking each other: “What have YOU done to further the rules and the ethos of the GAA lately?” They’re too busy playing games and organising events and arguing over ticket allocations for the All Ireland final etc.

    You ask: “Why not ditch the politics”? Basically, I think the reason is that it’s just not your average GAA member’s idea of a priority. As I said, being a GAA member simply does not feel like a political experience. Most GAA members would find this conversation bizarre. I just cannot convey to you strongly enough how wildly irrelevant this debate is to the modern GAA experience.

    Imagine someone refusing to take their seats in Westminster because of the Act of Succession. “I’m having nothing to do with that lot until a Catholic can become monarch,” our man thunders. “Why oh why doesn’t the British government DO something about it?” he cries.

    To which the reply, of course, is: er, we’ve got a budget to produce and crime to tackle and roads to build and schools to run and a military to organise and hospitals to improve and prisons to run and embassies to finance and courts to staff and taxes to raise and……

    But we’ll get around to it as soon as we can. Promise.

    “I do not fear nationalism/republicanism. I oppose it. I’m an unapologetic unionist. I am very certain and sure of that.”

    And say you decided to join the GAA – would it make you less of a unionist?

    “How should the GAA respond?”

    Put manners on SF. A 12-month moratorium on any club hiring its facilities to SF. (Political parties all over Ireland sometimes rent facilities to political parties, eg for constituency surgeries or fundraisers. It’s purely business – but business that the GAA should refuse from SF for a set period.) I also think they should investigate the circumstances that led to the Antrim county board opening Casement. If it’s the case that the Antrim board went on a solo run, then central council should suspend the officers responsible – all of them, if necessary. (Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the hunger strike commemoration, the event broke GAA rules. Central council ruled on it BEFORE the event. Between them, SF and Antrim County Board challenged the authority of Central Council. I had no objection to the event but I DO object to a political party causing a split within the association.)

    Now, if it’s the case that county board members were acting under duress then the response re SF should reflect this. At the end of the day there is a limited amount that the GAA can actually do to punish SF, but if the GAA president came out and accused SF of strong-arming a county board, I know a hell of a lot of people who have voted SF in the past who would not do so again. The GAA means more to most northern nationalists than SF does.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “It is evident that the PSF hold much influence in GAA Clubs in many parts of Northern Ireland. A GAA member from County Down wrote to the Irish News recently at his dismay that PSF now had a foothold in many top clubs in Co down, and where using their influence to further a political agenda.”

    I’d be careful about basing a judgement on something so tenuous. SF have been trying to turn the GAA to its purposes for 30 years, always unsuccessfully. Put simply, the GAA is bigger than SF, or indeed any political party on this island. It stands to reason that a club in, say, west Belfast will have more republican members than a club in, say, Newcastle, but the unity of the organisation has always trumped partisan considerations. I mean, have you ever heard of a breakaway GAA club?

    (*Actually, I can think of one, but that was a dispute between families, no politics involved.)

    “I know what you mean. However, it wasn’t you shouting “Up the Provos”, so, in my book, you’ve nothing to feel guilty about.”

    I suppose we just look at the world in fundamentally different ways. Fair enough.

    “Congress 1979. Motion passed by the GAA giving its “unequivocal support to the struggle for national liberation”.

    Fair enough. Though I disagree with your suggestion that the Provos somehow owned the word “struggle”, but of course you’re right to say the GAA was taking a political stance.

    “Motions passed in support of the Hunger Strikers – members of militant republican gangs.”
    I must admit I wasn’t aware of any motions supporting the hunger strikers. (When was that? Must’ve been the 1981 Ard Fheis, yes?)

    “Thanks Billy – you may be surprised at the number of unionist kids actively interested and participating in Irish dancing.”

    That’s terrific news.

    “Yes, really – I have no issues with Gaelic culture, be it language, singing, dancing or Gaelic games. I don’t why some unionists do.”

    Ah come on, guess.

    “Why are you gobsmacked? The GAA denounces everything unionists support politically.”

    No it doesn’t, it just stands for that which unionists oppose, that’s all. The GAA has many aims and objectives, but making unionists feel inferior is not one of them. I’m gobsmacked to hear a unionist suggest that this is something the GAA wants to achieve and even more gobsmacked to hear that it has “succeeded” (in doing something it doesn’t set out to do in the first place).

    “Unionists oppose nationalist/republican politics. Nothing odd in that.”

    Seriously, to hear unionists talking about the GAA is a bizarre experience for most of us. You talk about “opposing nationalist/republican politics” but unionists mostly seem able to talk reasonably about, say, the SDLP or the Irish government. Yet when the GAA is mentioned, the red mist seems to come down and a wild-eyed look seems to come across the collective unionist visage.

    Seriously, it’s weird. Of course if as you say the GAA makes unionists feel inferior, then the lashing-out makes sense.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “Jesus, at my club no-one asks anything of the sort. I just give the club treasurer twenty quid a year. It’s not like you have to take an oath. It’s not like members sit around asking each other: “What have YOU done to further the rules and the ethos of the GAA lately?”

    Rule 22 will alarm you somewhat then.

    “Put manners on SF. A 12-month moratorium on any club hiring its facilities to SF.”

    I would suggest the spokepeople for Antrim GAA will merely ask where the GAA President was, and who he shared a platform with, the Sunday before Casement.

    Sickening to people in the unionist community.

    “Ah come on, guess”

    Many unionists are very b igoted in outlook. They do not hold a monopoly on that.

    “No it doesn’t, it just stands for that which unionists oppose, that’s all.”

    No surprise then that unionists oppose the GAA.

    “I’m gobsmacked to hear a unionist suggest that this is something the GAA wants to achieve and even more gobsmacked to hear that it has “succeeded” (in doing something it doesn’t set out to do in the first place)”

    Well, that’s another thing to ponder.

    “Seriously, it’s weird. Of course if as you say the GAA makes unionists feel inferior, then the lashing-out makes sense”

    I’m certainly not in the business of “lashing out”. I prefer to try and express my heartfelt feeling reasonably and rationally. I may not be the cleverist or most articulate man in the world, but I like to think that I am sincere and honest.

    The GAA divides the people of Ireland. It is certainly not in the business of building an Ireland Of equals. Yet, it seeks a united Ireland. I’m gobsmacked by that.

    “unionists mostly seem able to talk reasonably about, say, the SDLP or the Irish government”

    Both recognise that the future involves unionists, and respect fully unionist aspirations. They are also solely political beings.

    They perhaps recognise that “Ireland’s claim to nationhood is impaired” by the ballot box?

    The GAA seemingly doesn’t.

  • Realist

    “The decision was taken because of the Hunger Strike Rally at Casement Park that went ahead against the Central Council’s wishes, which seems to have been considered a breach of “the principle of mutual respect”.

    A tad ironic, this “mutual respect” business.

  • Sam Maguire

    Realist

    “A tad ironic, this “mutual respect” business. ”

    Given the complete lack of respect shown to the GAA by the unionists on this thread, then I agree, it is a tad ironic.

  • willowfield

    BILLY PILGRIM

    Then why did you feel it necessary to accuse me of “lies”?

    Because you told lies.

    This is what I mean – why was the foundation of the GAA an act of xenophobia? Would you not accept that the protection of indigenous games and culture against imperial games and culture can be seen as something other than xenophobia?

    It was influenced by a xenophobic mentality, i.e. a fear of Britishness and things perceived to be British. Whether that makes it an “act of xenophobia” I’m not sure.

    Just so I’m clear on this: you are saying that there isn’t any indigenous component to Gaelic football, simply that the GAA founders took the rules of rugby and the rules of soccer and split the difference? Is that what you’re saying happened? what is your understanding of how Gaelic football evolved? What is your understanding of all the different influences upon it?

    Rough games of football were played all over the British Isles. In the 19th century, football was codified in various different ways. By the 1870s, there were basically two codes being played – association and rugby football. At this point the Gaelic revivalists decided that they’d better codify their own version and – hey presto – they came up with Gaelic football: a hybrid of association and rugby.

  • willowfield

    Why doesn’t the GAA just knock the political stuff on the head and get on with organising its sports?

  • Fer fecks sake

    ” At this point the Gaelic revivalists decided that they’d better codify their own version and – hey presto – they came up with Gaelic football: a hybrid of association and rugby”

    And your source for this is…….?

    (And by the way you’re ignoring the information in the link I so helpfully provided for you –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaelic_football#History )

    Billy Pilgrim is right, your purpose for persisting with this line is to cause insult.

  • willowfield

    The link doesn’t contradict anything I have said.

    I can’t help it if you are insulted by someone observing the obvious. That’s your issue, not mine.

    Go watch a Gaelic football match. Then compare to rugby and association football.

  • John East Belfast

    Billy Pilgrim

    “I said that sports such as rugby, cricket, hockey and to a much lesser extent soccer were used as tools of imperialism. They aren’t inherently anything, but it’s well documented they WERE used that way, and very successfully.”

    That is just sad nationalist paranoia. I asked you yesterday to give some evidence but you failed to do so – it is all in your mind

    I have heard of many instruments of British imperialist aggression but forcing people how to enjoy themselves is the most ridiculous of all.

    Has it ever crossed your mind that the reason cricket is enjoyed in places like India, the West Indies and Sri Lanka etc is because they actually enjoy it ?

    If it was such an awful instrument of oppression why didnt they dispense with it when the Empire fell.
    The issue of football going beyond the Empire has already been made and I am not aware of the Duke of Wellington bringing rugby to the French.

    However the point you make is an important one but it is one you should actually take a good look in the mirror at.
    The only people who used Sports as part of a wider political expression were the 19th Century Irish.

    The assortment of Zealous Catholics, republicans and irish racists saw that the greatest danger to their collective cause was the natural inclination of the Irish to converge with their cousins throughout these Isles.

    Therefore they used the GAA movement to help create that separateness.

    I have no beef with that now – we all have our history.

    However I cannot accept your notion of victim hood that the setting up of GAA was a reaction to British sporting imperialism. It was instead a proactive and visionary effort by those eternally opposed to any form of British Isles Union.

    It is you who has to accept that now and then consider what relevance all the baggage that comes with it has to bringing peace and unity to this isalnd today.

    If you keep convincing yourself the GAA was a reactive movement rather than a proactive one with a 19th Century agenda then you wont be able to see the glaring changes it needs to make today.

  • Fer fecks sake

    On the contrary, it does.

    It clearly states that both Gaelic football and Aussie rules have no limitation on ball or player movement, unlike Rugby, (forward passing) or Soccer (the offside rule). Thats only one (very significant) point which comes to mind.

    It also states that soloing, and the need to toe kick while doing so, and the hand pass are all evidence of older Irish games. These are all central to Gaelic football today and neither are present in rugby or soccer.

    Also, have you ever heard of a “Square ball” in rugby or soccer? Try Google if you don’t know what a square ball is.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow

    Why would any Gael give the time of day to someone who is only interested in being insulting? Why would any blogger be interested in debating with someone who simply ignores everything that is said to them and just repeats assertions ad nauseum? Why would anyone give the time of day to someone so rude? I can assure you, I’m not going to.

    JEB

    “That is just sad nationalist paranoia.”

    Wow, that’s a promising start…
    As I said, there have been entire university courses on the subject. Right now it’s late so I’ll have to get back to you. Actually, you know what? Scratch that – I’m not going to bother. I’m not interested in pursuing this with someone whose mind is so manifestly closed. Sorry mate but you aren’t worth the effort.

    “I have heard of many instruments of British imperialist aggression but forcing people how to enjoy themselves is the most ridiculous of all.”

    That’s not what I’m saying, so please desist from erecting straw men. Look, this is how empires work: Day One – send in the army, win the battle, occupy the country; Day Two – send in the schoolteachers and civil servants and “government advisers,” reward pliant media and set about “winning the hearts and minds” of the people.

    Now, you need military might to get into a country, but to stay there, even the strongest military power needs the consent of the population. Military might cannot give you that – empires have long understood that you achieve that end by selling cultural wares. The Romans brought aqueducts and baths to Gaul and Britain. Successive empires have brought Christianity to various parts of the world. The British brought games. Conversely, the Mongols, say, had one of the most destructive military forces in history and built the largest contiguous empire ever seen, yet it only lasted five minutes. Why? Because they had no games and their TV sucked.

    Now in Ireland in 1884, the British understood this and the Gaelic revivalists understood this. At stake were the “hearts and minds” of the Irish people, who might have gone either way. By and large the people of Ireland chose Gaelic games, though a sizeable minority (which includes but is by no means entirely made up of northern Protestants ) preferred the so-called “garrison games”.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Has it ever crossed your mind that the reason cricket is enjoyed in places like India, the West Indies and Sri Lanka etc is because they actually enjoy it?”

    Of course that’s why they play it. They love it. And it suited the interests of empire that they did – it was a crucial bond with the centre of empire. The British understood this. Those countries did not have an equivalent to the GAA – they also stayed within the empire a lot longer. But tell me: what are the indigenous games of India and Sri Lanka?

    “If it was such an awful instrument of oppression why didn’t they dispense with it when the Empire fell.”

    I don’t think the games were an “awful instrument of oppression” and I never said that – in fact I said that as instruments of empire go, they were very benign. But they WERE instruments of empire. People kept the games because the games themselves are wonderful, that is not in dispute.

    (This is very frustrating – you should at least do me the courtesy of reading my posts. Unless you only come on here for a bit of cathartic stick-it-to-a-fenian action?)

    “The only people who used Sports as part of a wider political expression were the 19th Century Irish.”

    Sorry, but this is just idiotic. Clearly you have never heard the suggestion before that there was a link between sport and empire in the 19th century, and clearly you are uninterested in the suggestion. Frankly, I’m uninterested in taking it much further.

    “The assortment of Zealous Catholics, republicans and irish racists saw that the greatest danger to their collective cause was the natural inclination of the Irish to converge with their cousins throughout these Isles. Therefore they used the GAA movement to help create that separateness. I have no beef with that now – we all have our history.”

    Sorry? You say: “Zealous Catholics” (capital Z!), “Irish racists”, “greatest danger was the natural inclination of the Irish to converge with their cousins throughout these Isles….”;
    And then you say: “I have no beef with that”? Look mate, I’m no psychiatrist, but (and I’m reading between the lines here) I think you have a very serious beef with it.

    “However I cannot accept your notion of victim hood that the setting up of GAA was a reaction to British sporting imperialism.”

    Nowhere have I suggested victimhood. (I’m noticing a trend here – you have read into my posts several arguments that I simply have not made. You’re letting your assumptions run away with you.) However it WAS a necessary act of organisation – as indeed was the entire National Revival of the 1880s-c1900 – in the face of the rapid decline of indigenous Irish culture. The GAA was only the most enduring of the bulwarks created in that era that were designed to protect Ireland from Walesification.

    “It was instead a proactive and visionary effort by those eternally opposed to any form of British Isles Union.”

    Indeed it was.

    “If you keep convincing yourself the GAA was a reactive movement rather than a proactive one with a 19th Century agenda then you wont be able to see the glaring changes it needs to make today.”

    You make it sound as though the GAA is an organisation in crisis, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

    Look: at the end of the day the GAA doesn’t have to give a damn what its detractors think. (That it often does so is a measure of its reasonableness.) Everyone is welcome to take part and it’d be nice if everyone did but if some don’t want to, that’s fine too. The GAA will continue to thrive regardless. If criticisms from whatever quarter are reasonable then they’ll find an audience. Shrill slanders and insults will not.

    This is not like the united Ireland question, where unionist engagement is fundamental. Unionists have opted out of the GAA and in doing so have removed themselves from relevance from matters GAA. I wish they wouldn’t but that’s not my call.

    When you’re dealing with an association as strong as the GAA, you’re either inside the tent or you’re nowhere, and where the GAA is concerned unionism has chosen to stand outside the tent alongside certain sections of the soccer and media crowds and the intelligentsia, shrieking with impotent rage. Inside, we can’t hear you over the roar of eighty thousand.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “This is not like the united Ireland question, where unionist engagement is fundamental. Unionists have opted out of the GAA and in doing so have removed themselves from relevance from matters GAA. I wish they wouldn’t but that’s not my call.”

    Be fair Billy, unionists were never in it to opt out.

    When an organisation has a nationalist/republican ethos, unionists cannot reasonably be expected to join it.

    If I were to say, Nationalists/Republicans have opted out of supporting the Northern Ireland team and in doing so have removed themselves from relevance from matters pertaining to the Northern Ireland team. I wish they wouldn’t but that’s not my call – would you accept that as legitimate?

    It seems many who have opted out have plenty to say on those issues.

  • caulfield

    Billy
    I’m no expert on the GAA ,its rules or regulations but there are certain aspects of the GAA which make northern prods wary. Local teams are usually organised around Catholic church parishes and are frequently named after nationalist heroes e.g Dungannon Clarks, O donovan rossa etc. Imagine if local soccer teams were called Dungannon Walkers or Cookstown Cromwells. Personally I feel it is much easier for Prods to support county GAA when the politics is less obvious. More prods might play if local teams were less political.
    It could only be to the benefit of the Northern GAA counties to get more prods playing.
    I’d like to see schools try and integrate their sports better to allow everybody to have a go at GAA, football, rugby etc. Then maybe standards in all sports might rise.
    J

  • Michael Robinson

    Fer fecks sake wrote: “both Gaelic football and Aussie rules have no limitation on ball or player movement, unlike Rugby, (forward passing) or Soccer (the offside rule)…”

    I’m not arguing the case for the origins of GAA one way or the other but I lived in Australia for some time so am certainly familiar with AFL.

    As you mentioned, Aussie Rules shares a number of characteristics with GAA but Aussie Rules was codified by an ex-Rugby public schoolboy and graduates of Cambridge University so aspects like handpassing are clearly not uniquely Irish.

    ps. I tried googling “square ball” and the number one hit was a Leeds United FC fan website so I’m not sure what significance that has 🙂

  • Fer fecks sake

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your constructive comments. (A breath of fresh air, I may add)

    I wasn’t trying to claim that hand passing was uniquely Irish, although the Australian historian in the Wikipedia link I provided suggests that the presence of handpassing in the Australian game was due to an Irish link.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaelic_football#History

    The fact that it was codified by Public schoolboys and Cambridge graduates isn’t really that significant IMO. I don’t know if they devised the hand pass for the Australian game themselves or if it was already present in the game at that time.

  • Michael Robinson

    Fer fecks sake: I tend to be slightly wary of wikipedia references having come across too many mistakes in subjects that I know something about (this not being one of them…) but the corresponding article on the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football#History]history of AFL[/url] claims “influence of English public school and university football codes, while undetermined, was clearly substantial” and “while it is clear even to casual observers that Australian rules football is similar to Gaelic football, the exact relationship is unclear”.

    However for original sources, there is a great letter [url=http://www.mcg.org.au/default.asp?pg=footballdisplay&articleid=37]here[/url] from Tom Wills (ex Rugby and Cambridge) which is usually cited as the creation of the sport.

  • John East Belfast

    Billy Pilgrim

    I really do not see why you are getting so worked up because I disagree with you.

    Indeed what am I saying ?

    I am laughing off your continued but unbacked assertion that the British Empire was being seriously advanced and maintained by “games”

    Have you any idea how ridiculous the following sounds

    “Military might cannot give you that – empires have long understood that you achieve that end by selling cultural wares. The Romans brought aqueducts and baths to Gaul and Britain. Successive empires have brought Christianity to various parts of the world. The British brought games”

    as I said you have a perfect plot for a future Monty Python film on the rise and fall of the British Empire.

    Perhaps some whacky Victorian may have thought somewhere that getting the natives to play rugby and cricket was somehow going to make them love being governed by London but any serious imperialist knew it was really about military might, ensuring the local elite were looked after and ensuring the general populace had food, work and safety.

    There would have been no serious assault on the cause of independent Irish nationalism because of “garrison sports”.

    The biggest division was one of religion which in 16th, 17th and 18th Century Ireland would have been enough.

    However in the latter part of the 19th Century the people I have referred to (Catholic zealots, irish republicans and Irish racists – you seem to tink they didnt exist)knew that ultimately that wouldnt be enough to maintain the cause of Irish Separatism.

    In the abscence of a different colour of skin they knew all Irish would eventually converge with the rest of the people on these Isles, to whom one way or another they were related, into what I maintain (in the abscence of Little Englanders, Irelanders and Scotlanders)is a natural Union.

    They realised they had to create a separate identity using language, music and games and with a master stroke they founded the GAA.

    Briliant idea which worked and goes onto this day. All I am saying is that a lot of the baggage surrounding its formation should now be ditched as it is no longer relevant and instead the GAA is an excellent vehicle for social cohesion and enabling locals reach a level of local sporting heroism that they wouldnt do on the national stage in any other sport.

    All I am encouraging you to do is stop accusing the GAA was a reaction against “British Games” but instead was a Proactive move against British Rule.
    Perhaps the former is how it was dressed up at the time but with the benefit of hindsight I would not expect you to be spouting the twaddle that the cause of Irish nationalism was under serious threat from rugby or cricket.

  • Fer fecks sake

    JEB:

    “They realised they had to create a separate identity using language, music and games and with a master stroke they founded the GAA. ”

    The separate identity already existed. They were saving it….not creating it. Can’t you see that?

    Exactly what higher moral code were 19thC Irish people bound to, to accept assimilation with the rest of the people in Great Britain?

    “In the abscence of a different colour of skin they knew all Irish would eventually converge with the rest of the people on these Isles, to whom one way or another they were related, into what I maintain (in the abscence of Little Englanders, Irelanders and Scotlanders)is a natural Union. ”

    Thats quite an amazing insight into the mindset of the founders of the GAA. Is it FACT or OPINION?

  • John East Belfast

    ffs

    “The separate identity already existed. They were saving it….not creating it. Can’t you see that?”

    I see it more as exploiting it for another cause – I didnt say it was plucked from the sky but nor do I agree with Billy’s assertion it needed “saving” from sinister British imperialism – ie I am not aware of any banning of the games, music or language as for example Tartan in Scotland.

    I am simply saying it was used for a political agenda in the 19th Century and all I am saying now is that political agenda is redundant and that aspect of GAA could and should be jettisoned.

    “Thats quite an amazing insight into the mindset of the founders of the GAA. Is it FACT or OPINION?”

    If Slugger was just about posting facts then this would be a very boring site.
    Most people can distinguish between opinion and fact I think so I dont see why you are asking ?

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘….I am not aware of any banning of the games, music or language as for example Tartan in Scotland….’ Apologies for going slightly off thread, but that one can’t be let go.

    JEB, there was a concerted government effort to wipe out the language through the educational system in the nineteenth century & Irish was banned in schools throughout the island. Ever heard of the tally stick?

  • Fer fecks sake

    The Tudor writer Sir John Davies recorded in his treatise of 1612 “A Discovery of the true causes why Ireland was never entirely subdued”:

    “We may conceive and hope that the next generation will in tongue, and in heart, and in every way else, become English; so that there will be no difference or distinction, but the Irish Sea betwixt us.”

    JEB:
    Is that the natural union with our cousins across the water that you speak of?

  • John East Belfast

    ffs

    ffs ffs – 1612 – that is going back a bit !

    TS

    “Ever heard of the tally stick?”

    is that what your name translates to ?

    yes as an accountant I have heard of it but I cant see its relevance to what we are talking about here ? – I am sure you will enlighten me.

    Anyhow I am off to Windosor Park – wishing we all had taken up GAA !